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Muddled Mess Fielder Resigns Council Position
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Riverbank City Councilman Danny Fielder's abrupt resignation has thrown a new obstacle and fresh urgency into officials' attempts to restore the council to a fully functioning complement of five members.

Fielder announced the resignation Thursday in a written statement, saying he was stepping down immediately. Contacted later he added it was because he was experiencing changes in his personal life and would be moving out of town.

Now down to only three members since Councilmember Dave White is recuperating from surgery, the council can fill Fielder's seat by appointment or a special election, said City Manager Rich Holmer. But it has only 30 days in which to appoint someone before it must go to a special election after the November general election.

Holmer wanted to hold a special council meeting within a few days to discuss the alternatives, he said Monday, but Councilmember Jesse James White told him he was leaving for Montana and would not attend a council meeting unless it was a regularly scheduled one.

The city already has cancelled the regular meeting of Aug. 9 because Mayor Virginia Madueno and Fielder (before his resignation) plus city staff will be out of town attending a conference in San Francisco affecting the Riverbank ammunition plant conversion and there would be no quorum.

The next regular meeting will be Aug. 23 and very close to the deadline for appointing someone to fill Fielder's post.

Holmer said Monday he was trying to contact Councilmember Dave White at the convalescent home where he is recuperating to see if it was possible to set up a telephone connection with him for a special council meeting, which he hoped to schedule for the middle of next week.

But getting the three votes necessary to name a replacement for Fielder could still be difficult. Jesse James White is the grandson of Dave White and the two often vote the same way, in opposition to the other three members Sandra Benitez, Madueno and Fielder.

If the council fails to appoint a successor to Fielder, it will have to hold a special election (after the Nov. 2 general election) that will cost $30,000 to $40,000, Holmer added.

Fielder was appointed to the council a year and half ago and was highly praised for his work on that agency by Madueno and Holmer.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I must inform you that I will no longer be able to serve with you on the dais as a member of the Riverbank City Council," Fielder wrote in his resignation letter. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Council and I wish that circumstances were different so that I could retain my seat. I know that I have served the residents well and I hope to be able to serve them again some day.

"I appreciate all the members of the Council and especially appreciate the support of the outstanding City staff. Please pass on my appreciation to all and please be sure to thank the wonderful citizens of Riverbank for their support as well."

Fielder also offered his good wishes for fellow council members, saying he hopes "that you have a full council once again soon."